Web Development Tools; Coda vs. Espresso 2

Several years ago, I moved from Dreamweaver to Panic’s Coda as my primary web coding editor. The only feature I really missed was Dreamweaver’s function to check the timestamp on the server file before uploading an edited version of the file and alert me if I was overwriting a file edited elsewhere. Since I work on multiple Macs, that feature came in handy so I didn’t overwrite something I did the week before on another Mac. I modified my workflow to open Transmit, sync that directory to my mac, open Coda and start to work. I know I could have used Coda to work directly on the server but I never got comfortable doing that. Since I’m the sole “developer”, this workflow was ok for me. I wasn’t interested in setting up Git or SVN. Anyway, Panic updated Coda to Coda 2 so I did some looking around to see if I wanted to move from Coda to Coda 2. If you look at the reviews of Coda 2 on the App Store, it’s getting some pretty poor reviews. I know developers can be a cranky bunch but when you see words like “unusable”, “unstable” and “crashes”, it does cause concern. Since they don’t have a demo of Coda 2, I decided to look at Espresso 2, which does have a 15 day, full featured demo.

Espresso 2

My main need for a development tool is to be able to find a file quickly, make my edits, validate the syntax and upload it as quickly as possible. Autocomplete and tag closing are nice to haves but not essential. The main frustration I’ve had with Espresso 2 is that the appearance of the publishing cloud next to the file name has been hit or miss, especially on a Mac running Snow Leopard. I can’t live with that. I was working on a file last evening and the publishing cloud icon didn’t appear. Nor did it appear for any file in that directory. This morning, it seems to be working fine.

As with the plugin architecture of Coda, Espresso 2 uses ‘sugar’ additives to provide enhanced features. I’m not sure how robust the ‘sugar’ development community is for Espresso 2 but there’s stuff out there.


Espresso 2 and Coda (original) are not very different. Coda autocloses brackets and braces but in a rather annoying way which requires you to move the cursor between the braces before typing. Espresso 2 doesn’t autoclose braces nor does it highlight braces when you close them like Coda does. Coda doesn’t do the file checking I mentioned above and it doesn’t seem like Espresso 2 does either. Espresso 2 does PHP sytax checking but Coda requires a plugin for that. Espresso 2 is much superior when it comes to wrapping selected text with a tag. If I didn’t still have a bad taste about Espresso 2’s publishing, I would probably be using Espresso 2 as my sole development tool right now. I’m not sure if I could be efficient using both Coda and Espresso 2 right now and I’m certainly not plunking down the $$ for Coda 2 until I see some more favorably reviewed point releases that address stability.